The Cochrane Generals split a pair of games over the weekend and are looking for a strong finish to climb higher in the standings before HJHL playoffs get underway.
Currently sitting fourth in the south division, they have five games remaining. In a perfect world they could climb as high as second but face some serious challenges in the home stretch. Three of their games against teams ahead of them in the race--the Okotoks Bisons and Medicine Hat Cubs.
The Gens are just four points behind the Cubs and Coaldale Copperheads, and the Okotoks Bisons have already claimed top spot with only three losses on the season, one of them against the Gens. Cochrane has two games in-hand on Coaldale.
"Finishing second or third would be ideal so we don't have to play the first round," says Gens head coach Kurtis Jones. "We're inconsistent right now and we just have to stay with the game plan and stay with the group. We're fighting a lot of injuries right now, and hopefully everyone's back next week and we'll be OK."
Teams finishing fourth and fifth in each division will play a best-of-three series to open playoffs, with the winner playing the top team in their division in a best-of-five. In the second round, the second seed will play the third seed, also in a best-of-five.
Four of the Gens remaining five games are at home.
Saturday night (Feb. 3), the Gens lost 2-1 on the road to the Okotoks Bisons, who have already claimed top spot in the south and are currently the top team in the 13-team league. Easton Dean scored winner with 1:09 remaining in regulation.
Caden Stephenson scored the Gens only goal of a powerplay from Brendan Thubron and Tristan Ripplinger.
Gens head coach calls the Bisons a solid all-around club, but believes the Gens are up to the task of beating them.
"We played well enough to win the game, but bounces come when you work," says Jones.
James Quaife believes the Gens have a chance to beat the Bisons in their final meeting of the year in Okotoks on Feb. 16.
"We couldn't figure out the last few minutes, but I think we played really good, and we know we can beat Okotoks, so we'll see them in the playoffs," says Gen James Quaife. "
Yesterday, the Gens rebounded with a 6-1 win over the struggling Red Deer Vipers. The Vipers are in a battle with the Airdrie Thunder for the final playoff spot in the north division.
"We dominated the game," says Jones. "It's hard to play a team like that. They were coming in the second, and then it just went downhill from there."
The Gens took a 2-0 lead after one, before the Vipers scored a short-handed goal early in the second. The Gens tallied two more in the second and third, with a total of 49 shots on Vipers goaltender Josh Hilts.
Gen Diago Coelho, third star of the game, had a four-point night, scoring on one and assisting on three. Second star Evan Sine opened the scoring for the Gens and added another in the third plus an assist.
"I think we played pretty well," says Sine. "We tried to stay out of the penalty box a lot but they're kind of a dirty team and we did as much as we could. It was a good overall finish, though."
The game's first star Andrew Guss had a goal and two assists. Ethan Matiece and Brendan Thubron rounded out the scoring.
Thursday night the Ponoka Stampeders are in town for a makeup game. The puck drops at 7 p.m. in Totem One.